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New Tea Republic shop offers teas, drinks and ‘boba’ in Citrus Heights

Tea Republic, Citrus Heights
Kristy Zhang prepares a drink at Tea Republic in Citrus Heights. // CH Sentinel

By Hazel Ford–
Type in a search for “bubble tea” online and you’ll find more than 30 places in the Sacramento area on Yelp, but only one in Citrus Heights.

Kristy Zhang, 26, is the owner of the recently opened Tea Republic at the corner of Sunrise Boulevard and Antelope Road, behind Walgreens. One of the only tea shops in the area, her new business has been attracting customers with its wide offering of mostly organic teas, bright interior and creative drinks since its grand opening earlier this year in January.

Exclusive coupon: Buy 1 drink, get one 50% off

The shop offers a variety of milk teas, fruity drinks, and ice-blended options, and boba can be added to any drink for an additional 50 cents. Traditional hot teas will also be available during the winter-time.

“Bubble teas” are drinks, usually a chilled tea, containing chewy balls called “boba.” Taiwanese in origin, boba pearls are made from boiled, usually sweetened, tapioca. Bubble tea isn’t always made with tapioca pearls, however. It can be made with “popping boba” — fruit juice filled pearls — puddings, or even jellies.

“We have popping boba varieties, which is really nice,” Zhang told The Sentinel in a recent interview. “They have juice inside and you can really taste it… It’s not too sweet.”

Other beverage options include their “secret menus” — limited edition drinks they post on the Tea Republic’s Instagram page. She said items on the secret menu end up being the most popular drinks in the shop.

Zhang said she gets all of her ingredients and tea leaves from a wholesale shop in San Francisco, most of which are organically grown and sourced from Taiwan and Thailand. They boil the tea leaves, then add flavor with sweet syrups, so that the drinks are easy to customize.

“Some people really don’t like [their tea] too fruity. They still want something similar to coffee, so we have a caramel milk tea that’s like a caramel macchiato,” Zhang said. “We don’t do coffee, because it’s just not tea.”

The boba is made in-house by Tea Republic, which requires a lot of work, but makes for a signature taste and texture. Zhang explained that it has to boil for hours to become tender and chewy.

“I’m so proud of our boba,” she said. “Our customers like it. We’re not like a lot of other shops where people say, ‘It’s too hard inside,’ or ‘It’s too soft.’ We have to try so many times to make exactly the right thing.”

Zhang first became involved in the boba tea business when she worked at a tea shop while in high school. Later, while attending UC Berkeley to pursue a degree in the medical field, she opened a milk tea shop along with her boyfriend, whom she later married.

She was later transferred to UC Davis and had to sell her shop before moving. After living in Sacramento for two years, however, the couple began looking into opening a new shop.

They decided not to purchase a store in Sacramento, due to the proliferation of nearby boba shops, so they began researching Citrus Heights. Zhang said it seemed like a good place to run a business, so they leased a store-front at 7777 Sunrise Blvd. and began working with a contractor.

The couple also moved to Citrus Heights a few months ago to be closer to their business.

“I was pregnant during that time, so my husband wanted me to live closer so that if something happened he could get me right to the hospital,” said Zhang.

The couple designed the shop themselves, but trouble with one of their contractors put them several months behind schedule.

“The one who was doing the floors just disappeared. We sent him the money and he disappeared,” said Zhang, who later found out he didn’t even have a license. “We’d already given him the money, so we didn’t have the money for a new floor. We decided to do it ourselves.”

Since opening in mid-January, the new location has earned an average 4.5-out-of-5-stars rating from over 50 reviewers on Yelp. Based on customer requests, Tea Republic will also be expanding to a second location in Rocklin later this year near Granite Drive and Rocklin Road.

Tea Republic in Citrus Heights is located at 7777 Sunrise Blvd., Suite 2000.

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